With the rousing success of the Savage Model 10 and my new York Arms Conspirator, I felt it was time to investigate one more precision rifle venue: a high-end .22LR rifle. After consistently hitting a steel gong with a Marlin model 60 at 200 yards, I had to re-think long distance shooting with the .22LR cartridge. Even with bulk Federal ammunition I was able to ring an 18" gong at 200 yards - no difficult feat with a custom AR-15 in .223 Remington with 20X Leupold scope; considerably more challenging with a Marlin model 60 with a fixed 4X power BSA scope.
Now, there are many options, but three of the most promising contenders are:
Savage Mark II (picture from manufacturer's website).
Now, I've got a Model 10 and have found it to be supremely accurate even with bargain optics. I have no reason to suspect that their higher end rimfire rifles wouldn't be equally accurate, and with a significantly lower cost per round (even high end .22LR doesn't even come close to middle-of-the-road .308 Winchester), it's something I could shoot quite a bit more than the centerfire version. MSRP on the rifle is $445, so I'd expect it to retail somewhere in the upper $300s.
Ruger 10/22 Target (picture from manufacturer's website).
The 10/22 Target has an obvious advantage in that I've already got a ton of 10/22 magazines - it's one less additional purchase to make. I'm also familiar with the action and breakdown, and there are a zillion aftermarket parts should I want to customize the rifle further. It's a semi-auto and I'm leaning towards bolt action (so maybe a 77/22 instead?), but it's definitely in the running. MSRP on the Target model is $499, so it'd run somewhere in the lower $400s off the shelf.
CZ455 Varmint (picture from manufacturer's website).
I've heard nothing but good things about the CZ line of rifles, and their rimfire rifles are rumored to be supremely accurate. I've had no experience with their rifles, which is both a plus (something new) and a minus (I'm familiar with Savage and Ruger, frex). It's a traditional bolt-action rifle, with a lovely walnut stock and blued finish - it'd be a change from the tactical flavor of recent rifles.MSRP on the CZ455 is $483, so it'd come in somewhere between the Savage and the Ruger.
Now, I'm sure I'm missing a bunch of other rifles here. Marlin offers the new XT-22 model line, complete with a heavy barrel version. Browning offers the T-Bolt Varmint/Target, also with a heavy barrel. There are any number of options I'm not even thinking of right now, to be sure, and I'll probably kick myself for missing them once they've been suggested. The three listed above, though, are the models that have come up repeatedly as accurate rimfire rifles, and any of the three would be a lot of fun to outfit with a good rimfire scope and test out on the 100 yard range.
And for CZ and Savage, I've never had one of your fine rifles for T&E - just sayin'...
That is all.